Senate Cuts Education; Educators React

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It was a situation school administrators throughout the state hoped would never happen: the debate over whether or not to cut school funding mid-year.

Thursday, it did-- and state senators said in a 20 to 18 vote that doing so is necessary in this budget crisis.

"Everyone in schools and the public sector knows our budget is based on revenue estimates," says Senator Alan Cropsey, (R) DeWitt.

And Cropsey says the state simply overestimated its giving potential. The new plan is meant to recover that money. It would reduce per-pupil funding by $34, as well as reduce ISD and at-risk program funding. In total, the cuts add up to nearly $400 million.

"When I see where the rest of the state budget is being cut, I ask: Can school districts afford to economize by 50 cents a student per day for the rest of the school year?," poses Cropsey. "I think they can."

But Lansing School Board vice president Hugh Clarke vehemently disagrees with Cropsey and the senators who approved these cuts.

"Perhaps he can come look at our budget and tell us how that would be done," Clarke says.

"Sure, I guess we can withstand cuts," says East Lansing School Board president George Brookover. "I guess the Senate could also withstand salary cuts, the House could withstand salary cuts, we could stand to not replace any traffic lights and teachers could stand to go without retirement."

Brookover and Clarke both agree these cuts would be damaging.

"Cuts in funding result in increased class size, in less special programs," Brookover lists.

"That's not how you get at a budget with a big deficit, on the backs of students," Clarke says.

It's now up to House members to decide if schools can endure enough cuts to tackle this brimming budget. The Governor does have the power to veto such a bill.

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